FIFA 22 Review

Matt Lorrigan

The first thing I noticed, when playing the PS5 version of FIFA 22, was the way the goal net rippled when I scored my first goal. Tell a lie, the very first thing I noticed was David Beckham tucking into a plate of crepes, at the beginning of FIFA 22’s overly lengthy, self-aggrandising intro, full of some of the most pointless celebrity cameos of all time. But once I was finally allowed to get into my first game, and scored my first goal - a bullet from Mbappe at the near post - I saw the goal netting bulge and shake, more realistic than ever before, and my brain immediately thought “that’s different”.

That’s the funny thing about playing the new FIFA every year. Each time, EA Sports will announce the new game with some marketing bluster and an excitingly named new feature or two. This time around it’s HyperMotion, technology which allowed the development team to properly capture player movements in an 11-a-side match for the first time, and recreate them in the game. But when you finally sink into your sofa, controller in hand, it all comes down to how it feels versus the previous entry. So let’s talk about that.


You can choose not to pick Mason Mount, if you want less realism.

The ball feels bigger. I don’t know exactly how to explain this one, but after nearly twenty hours of play, this still rings true to me. In FIFA 21, the ball was a small, light, nippy thing that allowed you to play inch-perfect passes along the ground and in the air. If you were one-on-one with the keeper, a finesse shot would slide right under them and into the back of the net 90% of the time. It would zip across the grass and into the feet of your attacker for a driven pass, or float high in the air for a lob. In FIFA 22, the ball feels bigger, and weightier, more likely to be intercepted by a defender’s outstretched limb or the goalkeeper’s fingertips. Passes have to be more deliberate, and require more thought, lest you pass it straight to the opposition. It rewards slower build-up, switching the play, and looking for a good opening.

Of course, in reality, the ball isn’t bigger. The physics have definitely been changed a bit, but the reason it felt like the ball had swelled in size is more to do with improvements to defenders and goalkeepers, of all things. Defending AI has been noticeably improved, with holding midfielders more likely to take advantage of a misplaced pass, nipping in to steal the ball back. Defenders lacking in pace don’t feel as outmatched by fast strikers anymore, able to use strength and positioning to win the ball back instead, or force an attacker out wide. Chelsea has become my go-to club in Online Seasons this year, and players like Kante and Thiago Silva have proved to be every bit as important when winning a game as the likes of Lukaku and Havertz up top. Goalkeepers, too, are far more competent than ever before, making plenty of good saves from shots that would have been guaranteed goals in entries past.

The question is, does this result in a better game? For the most part, I think it does. Immediately coming off the back of FIFA 21, it can be quite jarring at first. But once you get used to it, it offers a slightly more realistic digital depiction of the beautiful game, and one that still offers a lot of fun - especially when opening up the opposition with a slick passing move, or breaking down an attack with a well timed tackle. Each goal you score feels more earned, more deserving of celebration. 


A lot of these changes feel like a reaction to FIFA 21’s shortcomings, such as its frequent high-scoring games or its reliance on pace. But it wouldn’t be a new FIFA game if it didn’t overcompensate, would it? Goalkeepers aren’t just improved in FIFA 22 - they’re frustratingly good, frequently saving incredible shots, even in the lower leagues. In my first few Ultimate Team games, I was using a 62-rated goalkeeper, and he barely let in a goal. And in trying to reduce the impact of pacey strikers, it seems that the developer has made through balls frustratingly inconsistent and difficult to pull off. There’s a balance to be found, but, as always, FIFA has swung the pendulum a touch too far in the other direction this year, and missed that elusive middle ground.

Changes haven’t just been made on the pitch, in FIFA 22, although the improvements made to other modes aren’t huge this year. Career Mode now allows you to create your own team to manage, picking their average rating, kit design, and stadium, before putting them in the league of your choice. But the customisation options are disappointingly limited, and players are auto-generated, meaning you can’t create a team of your mates (or the Avengers) like you could in the heady days of Creation Centre. Outside of this, Manager Career has seen barely any improvements this year, and FIFA 22’s slower-paced gameplay and improved AI makes playing against the computer a slightly more frustrating affair. Player Career mode is much more improved, with a proper XP upgrade system and more realistic options, including the ability to actually come off the bench, which has been strangely absent previously, so if this is your go-to mode, then FIFA 22 is a much easier sell.


Aerial duels are more physical this time round.

Volta returns, and this time it’s closer to FIFA Street than ever before, with a new goal multiplier that is basically FIFA Street’s ‘Gamebreaker’ in all but name, but it’s still missing the arcadey thrills and spills of that classic EA Sports BIG game. And of course, we can’t talk about FIFA 22 without talking about FIFA Ultimate Team. Let’s be real for a second - if FUT didn’t feature microtransactions, it would be one of the best sports game modes ever. If you were able to buy packs, bid on players, and sell players using only an in-game currency, the appeal would be as strong as ever, without any of the shitty business practices. But in reality, Ultimate Team remains one of the worst examples of pay-to-win microtransactions in any multiplayer title, and this is in a full-price game as well. I have, and will likely continue, to play and enjoy FUT this year without spending any money. But FIFA’s approach to digital gambling isn’t acceptable, and with loot box legislation looking likely to be introduced in multiple countries soon, its time could soon be up.

At times, I think that FIFA 22’s gameplay might be the best that it’s been in many years, especially when playing against other players. At other times, it can prove more frustrating than ever before, as a goalkeeper makes a string of unbelievable saves to keep out your star striker, or a single thoughtless pass sets up your opponent for a devastating counter attack in the last minute. The highs are higher, and the lows are lower, and perhaps that’s to be expected. In creating a more realistic simulation of the game of football, it shouldn’t be surprising that FIFA 22 recreates that real life rollercoaster of emotions, as well.

FIFA 22

FIFA 22 offers a slower, more deliberate game of football on the pitch, and that's a good thing. But with minimal investment in new modes or updates to existing ones, this is a good upgrade, rather than an essential one.

Form widget
80%
Audio
80%

The new commentary team is a slight improvement, although not the big step up that was needed. The match day sounds are authentic, and the track list is, as ever, full of bangers to add to your Spotify playlists (I've had Skeletons on repeat).

Visuals
85%

This is definitely more of a next-gen upgrade for FIFA than last year - new animations and slicker presentation make sure of that - but it's still not a mind-blowing upgrade.

Playability
85%

A more deliberate game of football, with less reliance on pace and skill moves, is a welcome change, and makes each goal feel more impactful. But slightly overpowered goalkeepers and defenders can prove frustrating when playing against the AI in Career Mode.

Delivery
70%

There are some upgrades and improvements across all modes once again this year, but whether its worth it for you depends on where you spend the majority of your time in FIFA.

Trophies
50%

Same old, same old, a big list that wants you to play a lot of every mode, even if you don't want to.

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